This week’s topic:
June 7: Ten Reasons I Love X — could be a certain book, character, author, your indie bookstore, a fandom, a tv show, reading, a hobby, a genre. Honestly anything you want to gush about.
I had a few ideas for this prompt, and decided to spotlight one of my all-time favorite authors, someone whose books make me proud to say I read, support and love YA: A.S. King.
A.S. King is the award-winning author of several young adult novels, each of which unflinchingly tackle tough teen issues through well-developed, unforgettable voices. She is the author of seven young adult books including the Michael L. Printz Award-Winning novel Please Ignore Vera Dietz and her most recent novel, I Crawl Through It. Her next novel, Still Life with Tornado is expected to be published on October 11, 2016.
So why do I love A.S. King’s novels so much? Here’s why:
1. The Voices are Honest: From the moment you begin an A.S. King novel, you get the sense that she trusts her readers, whether they’re a teenager or an adult. She trusts them to be smart and to be able to place themselves within her stories. Her narrators don’t spoon-feed so to speak. Rather, they confront tough subjects and tell the story that they need to tell, cutting through the bullshit and focusing on telling a good story. From Lucky struggles against bullies and his family’s past to Vera Dietz’s fight to clear her dead best friend’s names, King’s novels deliver raw, honest narrations that pulled me into the world of her characters.
2. They’re Super Weird: King’s writing is weird in a good way, the kind of weird that makes you wonder what she’ll do next and then blows you away (even if it makes your head hurt). Her surreal feminist manifesto-esque novel Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future infuses the weirdness of drinking a bat and suddenly being able to see everyone’s past and future ancestors with feminist critique, resulting in a powerful novel. Her latest novel I Crawl Through It uses surrealism a la Kafka to critique the system of standardized test and crisis preparation plaguing contemporary schools.
3. They All Made Me Sob: It’s not an A.S. King novel unless you’re sobbing by the end (or more accurately, halfway through). She makes you feel so attached to the character and writes so passionately that I can’t help but get sucked into the emotion of the narrative. It’s the best type of crying though, and it made me enjoy all of her novels that much more.
4. They’re Funny: King’s novels won’t only make you cry, they’ll make you laugh too (sometimes to the point that you’ll start crying). King’s sense of humor is the right amount of twisted and brutally honest and real, leading to a lot of laugh out loud moments in each of her books.
5. They Talk About Important Stuff: I love fluffy romances, and while I know I’ll probably get some romance in one of King’s novels, I know I’m not going to get a whole lot of fluffy. And I LOVE that. Her books bring seemingly insurmountable issues down to a personal and human level from love to the Vietnam War to death to feminism and more.
6. They’re Incredibly Well Written: There isn’t a single novel of hers where I haven’t been sucked in by the second page. Period.
7. They Have Great Characters (But Especially the Girls): A lot of my favorite characters live in A.S. King’s novels, and her female characters reflect a lot of my own inner and outer turmoils. Astrid Jones. Glory O’Brien. Lansdale. Stanzi. Vera Dietz. Lucky Linderman. Gerald Faust. I love them all.
8. They’re Densely Emotional: Each of King’s novels feels like it deals with a spectrum of emotions, but highlights one or two in particular. I Crawl Through It looks at anxiety in all its forms. Reality Boy looks at anger and shame. Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future looks at control, or lack there of. Everybody Sees the Ants scrutinizes the diverse range of human pain. And so on.
9. They’re the Kind of Books that Make You Slow Down: Even though I want to, I can’t race through one of King’s novel. I find they take me a while to read, because I want to make sure I catch each word and detail and emotion. And that’s a great thing.
10. They Tell a Damn Good Story: By the end of each of King’s novel, I felt like I had gone on a journey with the character. It might not have been a definite resolution, but it felt like an end. And when I looked back, I could see the outline of the overall story. A.S. King is an amazing storyteller. Period.